Handbook of Critical Policy Studies
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Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Edited by Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

Critical policy studies, as illustrated in this Handbook, challenges the conventional approaches public policy inquiry. But it offers important innovations as well, in particular its focus on discursive politics, policy argumentation and deliberation, and interpretive modes of analysis.
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Chapter 7: Cultural political economy and critical policy studies: developing a critique of domination

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop


This chapter introduces cultural political economy as one among several approaches that explore the interconnected semiotic and structural aspects of social life. The CPE approach belongs in the camp of ‘grand theories’ that, inter alia, offers a preliminary set of basic and sensitizing concepts and positive guidelines that are relevant to historical description, hermeneutic interpretation, and causal explanation. It combines critical, historically sensitive, semiotic analyses with concepts from heterodox evolutionary and institutional political economy. It aims thereby to overcome the often compartmentalized analysis of semiosis/culture and structuration/institutions by integrating semiosis into political economy and applying evolutionary and institutional analyses to semiosis. This has important implications for understanding the limits of constructivist and structuralist analyses; lived experience and lesson-drawing; the relations among polity, politics and policy; and specific fields of public policy. Each of these themes is explored in appropriate detail. Finally, by combining specific concepts and analyses bearing on semiosis and structuration, CPE can also provide the basis for critiques of ideology and domination. This offers more solid foundations to understand ideology and ideological effects as well as forms of social domination and contributing thereby to critical policy studies.

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